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Leyden Road closure inconveniences continue

GREENFIELD — The seemingly sporadic closures of a local road undergoing water main replacement are inconveniencing more than just motorists.

It’s hurting one Leyden Road man’s business.

“On a good day, when the road is open, I’ll have about 50 people stop by,” said Walter Kleeberg, who sells homegrown vegetables on the side of the street. “When the road is closed, I might have 10.”

Though each day’s water main work is usually wrapped up by 2:30 p.m., by the time the “road closed” and “detour” signs are taken down, most of Kleeberg’s afternoon customers have already bypassed him on the detour.

The trouble is, Kleeberg said, on any given day, he won’t know the road will be closed until he drives down it, comes across the work site and has to turn around. By then, he’s already picked the day’s harvest and by the time the road reopens, hundreds of cars have been detoured around his roadside stand. Without cold storage for his cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, corn and beans, what he can’t sell starts to spoil.

He said he ends up throwing hundreds of dollars worth of produce into the compost heap on days that the road is closed to drivers.

“I might as well pull up my farmstand and harrow my field,” Kleeberg continued.

It’s also an issue for Kleeberg’s main business, A-1 Portables, which rents and services portable toilets. He runs two large pump trucks, which travel down Leyden Road on a daily basis.

“We’ll get all the way down to the work site, and have to turn around in someone’s driveway,” he said. It’s about a mile each way and, when added to the six-mile truck detour down Routes 5 and 10, adds up to an extra 8 miles.

“I get about 8 miles per gallon in my trucks, so it costs me about $5 each time I take the detour,” he said. “But what about the 500 to 1,000 cars that travel that road every day, and all the extra fuel they’re burning?”

The closures could be a problem for Kleeberg and others for the duration of the decade.

Due to budget constraints, the Greenfield Department of Public Works can only replace about 1,000 feet of the two-mile-long water main per year.

“If you do the math, that makes it a 10-year project,” said DPW Director Art Baker.

It’s frustrating, said Baker, but the town has only authorized $100,000 per year for the project, and that’s all they can do for that amount of money.

“If we sub(contracted) it out, the job could be done in a season,” said Baker. “But it would cost three times as much.”

All six of the DPW’s water division workers are involved in the project, said Baker. It’s the only ongoing project the water workers are doing at the moment, but they also have day-to-day duties like water meter reading, and sometimes have to drop what they’re doing to respond to emergencies like water main breaks in other Greenfield locations.

There are also staff shortages to deal with. Baker said that the work is scheduled when crews are available, and in doing so, he has to work around workers’ vacations and sick days.

Baker met with Kleeberg Friday to hear his concerns. The DPW director said he will try to give Kleeberg more notice when the road will be closed.

This season, said Baker, the road has been closed about five times.

“We attempt to keep the road open most of the time,” said Baker.

On most days, he said, the road can be narrowed to a single lane through the work site. When work involves replacing water lines or culverts that cross the road, though, the DPW has to close it completely. That also happens when work is being done on a single lane of the road around a tight corner, in the interest of safety.

Safety is also a concern for Kleeberg. He worries about the hundreds of drivers redirected down Country Club Road or Routes 5 and 10 each time Leyden Road closes.

Others ignore the “road closed” signs completely, said Baker.

“Some people try to blow right through the work zones and that creates a safety hazard for the people working there, and the travelling public as well,” Baker said.

Baker estimated that the DPW will wrap up the work on Leyden Road for the year in mid-September. Though the asphalt in the work area has been torn up all season, he said the DPW will pave it over once they call it quits for the year.

Until then, the road will occasionally be closed, though Baker said he is working with his crews to minimize the effect and frequency of those closures.

David Rainville can be reached at:
drainville@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 279

Thank you Mr. Kleeberg for addressing this ongoing issue on Leyden Road. This repair project is well into it's second year and as a resident of Leyden Road who lives just a few houses down from Mr. Kleeberg this is an inconvenience for the residents on the lower end of this road simply because we do not know when the road is going to be closed until we reach the barricade. It also has a negative impact on on automobile tires and the alignment of vehicles. If this is going to continue for an extended period of time perhaps it could happen during the Worm Town Festival dates in September and May? Leyden Road taxpayers would appreciate the break from the thousands of cars using the road to the Camp Kiwanee venue. We should be able to reap some benefit from this endless construction. I wonder if the Mayor would put up with this multi-year project if it were happening on Shelburne Road? I doubt it.

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